Two degrees of Roberto Clemente
February, 3, 2013
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
Louis Requena/ MLB Photos via Getty ImagesRoberto Clemente had an illustrious Hall of Fame career, collecting 3,000 hits.The 12-year-old had hit home runs before, with his first having been so memorable, in the way it smashed the back windshield of a truck parked beyond the left-field fence. But the home run that he hit in San Juan, well, this one would really stick with him.
He had been climbing up the levels of competition, playing against better and older kids, and in order to play in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, tournament, he had to make one of the first significant journeys of his life. And the fact that the tournament was named for Roberto Clemente, the longtime Pittsburgh Pirates star, really meant a lot to him. The 12-year-old already had a sense of how much Clemente had meant to others -- not only for the way he played baseball, but for how giving he was and how much he cared, which is why he was on the relief plane that crashed on New Year's Eve in 1972.